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Guest Blog: Community Connections

Stepping out of my office at the St Kilda Gatehouse Greeves Street Op Shop a few weeks ago, I met a young woman who had slept rough that night.

I stopped to say g’day and sit alongside her as the sun warmed us both that chilly morning: it was not yet 9am so I sat with her until it was time to accompany her across the road to Launch Housing. A friend who can walk you to where you need to be makes everything easier.

I was heading off to our Drop In Centre, which is nearby, and as I walked along Carlisle Street, I passed Southside Justice – the local Community Legal Service, serving those who may not have access to other legal supports. As I got closer to our Drop In, I passed our great friend and AOD support service: First Step. Unlocking the gate to Drop In, my eye caught the flyer that advertises Better Health Network’s weekly service that operates alongside our care.

In that moment, I was struck by just how many essential services are within walking distance of our St Kilda Gatehouse locations. This has not happened by accident! Those who work to serve the most vulnerable within our community have shown wonderful foresight in keeping care accessible. Amidst the chaos of homelessness, or the confusion of mental health difficulties, amidst the fear of a trauma response, or the drive of addiction, it is too much to expect people to travel long distances to access the care they need.

My rough-sleeping friend made it to the housing service she needed because it was close. Many others will find the legal, AOD, and other health supports they need because they’re all located in the neighbourhood. Agencies that are close together can work together and support one another in providing essential services to those who need it most.

Nickie Gyomber, CEO St Kilda Gatehouse

Nickie's professional background has been in health care with her first qualification being in Speech Pathology, specialising in adult neurosciences, including head injury. An interest in alcohol and other drug services led her to complete further qualifications including a Master of Public Health - the focus on the social determinants of health is so relevant to the work of St Kilda Gatehouse.

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